Daniele Chiesa
    Daniele Chiesa

    Daniele Chiesa (1973) was born in Bergamo, Italy. At an early age he began studying classical guitar and then moved to Cremona to study musicology at the university. Near the faculty was the Cremona School of Instrument-Making and he made friends with some of the students there. He became interested in learning to build bowed instruments and decided to enroll at the school where he studied for forty hours a week for five years. This was a great start on the road to what he really wanted which was to make guitars.
    Shortly after graduating he became interested in archtop guitars and went to California to learn to build them. He ended up in a workshop where they made classical guitars and he realized that this was where his future lay. He, therefore, decided to go to Spain to learn a better, more deeply-rooted tradition of guitar-making. He had heard good reports of the courses organized by the Córdoba Guitar Festival and taught by Granada guitar-maker Paco Santiago Marín and in 2002 he signed up for one. He remembers with admiration the enthusiasm and effort that Paco Santiago put into his classes. After the course he decided to move to Granada, where he remained in touch with Paco. He would take his guitars to Paco and show him how he was getting on: the tops, thicknesses or fan-bracing. Daniele also began to frequent the workshops of René Baarslag and Antonio Marín and remains in touch with them even now. He also visited the workshop of Rolf Eichinger who, according to Daniele, has helped many members of the younger generation, especially the foreigners. He says that if you got on with Rolf, he was very open and would spend hours explaining techniques and methods and giving advice.
    Later, Daniele met his wife and after living in Granada for eight years they moved to the Costa del Sol in Málaga where he has his workshop today. He says that he still works in the style that he learned in Granada, and although he has experimented with artificial materials, the results have not convinced him to put aside traditional Granada construction. He believes that if you receive a solid grounding like the one he received in Granada, with its clearly defined characteristics, changing directions is not a good option. “If you start using new technologies, you risk losing the advantages of the traditional system without necessarily gaining the possible advantages of modern construction methods.” The main problem with guitars made using new technologies is that the sound made by these instruments differs greatly from the traditional guitar in terms of dynamics and tone colour. “Dynamics are of the utmost importance, much more than just volume” he claims. Daniele likes to hear the subtleties of the music and the guitar even when the guitarist is playing softly. As an example he cites a guitar made by Ana Espinosa which he heard in a large hall. He says that even though he was sitting at the back he could hear the guitarist’s changes in tone and dynamics perfectly. “The Smallman style of guitar has a very loud sound, no matter what, whether you play piano or forte and that is a distinct disadvantage.”
    In Cremona, Daniele learned that in the evolution of an instrument there can be no drastic, overnight changes, and that the individual changes and developments made by each maker are key factors in continuing the tradition. He prefers to adapt the traditional model, moving it forward in the subtlest of ways to keep his instruments up to date. In his opinion, the Granada school evolves slowly without deviating from the very Spanish sound, colour, and timbre. He also believes that the traditional guitar still has plenty of room for experimentation. If he had stayed in Cremona building violins he would have done nothing else but preserve an immobile, unvarying tradition. However, the traditional guitar allows him to experiment and implement interesting discoveries.
    Daniele believes there is a Granada school of guitar-making in Granada today. Granada has a deeply-rooted, unbroken tradition of guitar-making in the same way that Cremona has a strong tradition in the construction of the violin. Each guitar-maker has his own ideas, his own bracing and measurements, but the roots of the process and the way of understanding the instrument are the same. And this Granada guitar is very much alive today.